Seven tips for managing money while traveling to another country

United States By Christy Lowry Sep 5, 2023

When you’re traveling, the first thing you probably plan is what you’re going to do and see. Don’t forget to plan how you’re going to manage your money when you’re traveling, too. Whether you’re taking the vacation of a lifetime or studying abroad, use these 7 tips to help you manage your money abroad.

1. Make a travel budget

If you want to save money while traveling abroad or you want to simply avoid overspending, it’s essential that you create a travel budget. Creating a travel budget can also help you save up enough money prior to your trip. Your travel budget should factor in expenses for:

  • Airfare
  • Lodging
  • Transportation
  • Food and drink
  • Activities
  • Souvenirs

There are plenty of travel budgeting apps out there as well as travel budgeting templates that can help you manage your money while traveling. These apps or templates can help you determine how much money you can spend each day.

Once you’ve created a budget, print it out or store it on your phone so that you can view it on your trip if you have to. Printing out the details of your budget is ideal if you know you won’t have phone service in the country you’re traveling to.

2. Keep track of your expenses

Once you’re actually on your trip, keep track of how much you’re spending each day. If you spend too much on one day, you may need to cut back on spending another day to make up for it. Again, using a travel budgeting app or even the notes app on your phone can help you track your travel expenses.

3. Understand the local currency and exchange rate

All countries have their own currency and therefore have their own exchange rate. While some countries accept USD, it’s often better to just pay with the local currency instead.

Exchange rates are the rate that one currency can be converted into another. You can use a currency converter to quickly determine the exchange rate. Understanding exchange rates is essential for staying within your budget. Knowing the exchange rate can also help you avoid overspending while shopping, dining, or taking part in a tour or attraction.

4. Get foreign cash

You may come across places in another country that don’t accept credit cards. In cases like these, it’s important that you have foreign currency cash. You can order foreign cash from your bank before the trip for peace of mind, or you can also withdraw cash from an ATM once you arrive in your designated country.

5. Notify your bank

Before you travel to another country, it’s important to notify your bank of your travel plans. If you don’t notify your bank, they may freeze your card thinking that the transactions are from fraud. You can prevent this inconvenience by notifying your bank of your travel plans in your banking app or through your online bank account.

6. Consider a credit card with no foreign transaction fees

You might not remember the specific perks of the credit cards you own, especially if you signed up for them years ago. If that’s the case, research whether or not your credit card has foreign transaction fees. If it does, you may want to apply for a card that doesn’t have foreign transaction fees. This can help you save money while you travel.

7. Keep your money safe

Pickpocketing is rampant in certain countries. To avoid your money from being stolen, figure out how you want to carry your money while traveling. For example, putting your wallet in your backpack may not be the best idea as someone can easily unzip your backpack and steal your wallet unbeknownst to you. Similarly, don’t put your wallet in your back pocket or you could become a target of theft. It’s also wise to not carry too much cash around with you. For example, you can leave some of your cash in your hotel safe. You may want to invest in an anti-theft bag or money belt before your trip. And in case your wallet is stolen, make sure you have your bank’s contact information written down so you can contact them to freeze your credit cards.

Up next, learn more about currency conversion before you travel.